The business community in County Clare hosted one of the busiest job shadow events in the country last week.
The job shadow initiative promotes inclusive workplaces and equal employment opportunities for people with a disability or illness. A week of activities allows jobseekers to experience different work environments by spending a day working with managers and staff.
Helen McQuillan, team leader with EmployAbility Clare was delighted with the way local businesses embraced Job Shadow 2015.
“This year, we focused on businesses and work environments that would provide participants with a really good insight into a typical working day and make them feel welcome. The people who took part this year are all active jobseekers, so the job shadow experience is matched to their particular skills and interests,” she explained.
First to sign up was TTM Healthcare, an international health and social care recruitment company.
Pádraic Hayes spent the day in the company’s busy head office in Ballymaley Business Park in Ennis. He spent the morning with the compliance team and the afternoon on the doctor’s desk.
Emma Jarvis, HR and training manager and Paula McDonnell, director of operations at TTM, were keen to be involved because of the company’s focus on quality healthcare and support for caregivers.
Paula McDonnell said, “Our partners in disability services nationwide do amazing work empowering the people they support to lead life to the full. The team here supports these services on a daily basis and they jumped at the chance to get involved in Job Shadow Day.”
Brian Crowley, TTM Group CEO, summed up the day. “It was wonderful to have Pádraic with us for the day and to have staff involved in mentoring him. We have an inclusive and community engaged ethos, so events like this are good for companies, as well as being good for communities”.
Shannon Heritage also pledged support from an early stage. Craggaunowen and its peaceful woodland setting helped a jobseeker with a keen interest in history to travel back in time and experience life in the early Bronze Age.
Tour guide and weaver Olivia Brady, who has guided tourists in Craggaunowen for over seven years, explained the pivotal role guides and animators play in ensuring that people have memorable experiences and learn about the Shannon Region’s history and heritage.
Manager Pauline Lenihan was delighted to have been involved. “This is our first year doing the job shadow with EmployAbility Clare. It’s a unique, lovely working environment here. Staff are interested in their work and love meeting people, so it’s nice to be able to share our knowledge with someone who is interested in history and wants to work in this area.”
Another tour guide who played an active role was Jane O’Brien, an expert in medieval history and founder of Ennis Walking Tours. Thomas Culligan joined Jane and a small group of tourists exploring Ennis on foot, stepping back in time through narrow streets and alleyways.
Shadowing Jane gave Thomas an insight into small, niche businesses, which are essential elements of Clare’s tourism infrastructure. It also brought home the reality of working outdoors in the county’s unpredictable weather.
Also new to the job shadow this year were Cummins Car Centre, who hosted machine and motor enthusiast Declan Clohessy. Declan was shown around the showrooms and yard by Jason Cummins and learned how to make cars spick and span for their new owners.
The final job shadow event is with Clare Fruit and Veg in Turnpike Road. Participant Bernard Killeen has shown a strong interest in working with people in a busy environment, where customer service is a high priority.
Here, under the watchful eye of Matt Walters, Bernard will get the opportunity to meet staff and customers. The experience will help him learn about different work situations and environments, which along with his other work experience, will help him focus on his preferred job path.
The public sector also played its part. Clare County Council’s Ennistymon library welcomed local man John Reidy. John has a love of books and already volunteers at a local charity shop where he helps sort the books.
Librarian Monica Hawes told John about all the other services and activities that the library offers to people locally.
Shannon Garda Station gave Kieran Whelan a day to remember too. Tomás de Butléir from EmployAbility Clare introduced Kieran to Sergeant Seamus Mulligan in the station, while Garda Pat O’Gorman showed Kieran the different types of work that gardaí do. Kieran learned a lot about police work, shadowing Pat in the office.
The highlights of his day were a tour of the garda station, including cells and interview rooms, checking vehicles for tax and insurance and a patrol around Sky Court Shopping Centre.
This is the second year that An Garda Síochána in Clare have been involved. It was also second time round for Department of Social Protection Kilrush Road offices also. Office manager Geraldine Cleary, assisted by Pam O’Reilly, ensured that all aspects of their work and customer service were covered in the job shadow’s schedule. This was an invaluable insight into the day-to-day work carried out by a busy government department, whose main role is to support jobseekers and assist them in finding employment.
EmployAbility Clare staff were delighted with the response this year.
“We’re really seeing a change in employers’ attitudes towards people with disabilities or illness. There is a recognition that a thriving business community reflects and supports its community and the best way to do that is to provide employment opportunities for people motivated to work. This is an annual event, run by EmployAbility services and the Irish Association of Supported Employment, but we think it is an initiative we could run on in Clare on a more regular basis,” a spokesperson noted.